We read her columns every month. LocalsGuide Rock Star, Health Advocate, Licensed Acupuncturist and Healer Nancy Burton is back with an important message; “You Can Reclaim Your Health”. It is within your grasp! Nancy takes a strong, grounded and educated stance against the status quo. She goes above and beyond to treat her clients holistically, in combination with, or in addition to, conventional health care. In today’s interview I speak with Nancy to learn more about her dedication to health and healing.
Hi Nancy, thanks for participating in todays interview.
Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.
Nancy you have always been clear and upfront with your reason for participating in the LocalsGuide. You want to share your knowledge with as many people as possible!
Yes, my purpose is education. The health of average Americans is deplorable. It doesn’t have to be that way. With a bit of knowledge most health problems and serious illnesses can be avoided or resolved.
People also need to know where they can get help when needed, as well as what types of issues they can expect to find help for.
I really appreciate how many people have let me know they read my articles and find them helpful. Readers save them and send them to family and friends. They say my articles have made a difference in their quality of life. It gives me great incentive to write more.
I love hearing that your articles are being shared far and wide. At LocalsGuide we have unique page view counters at the bottom of every article we publish online and I can see that your articles have been shared with thousands of online readers as well. A big thanks to all our readers for sharing with friends and family around the world.
Wow! This is the first time I’ve heard about the online counters. That’s wonderful news! The more people who learn how much control they have over their own immediate and future health the better.
(Nancy Laughs) Oh, I complain plenty. But I also try to do everything in my power to change the situation. I see clear solutions, so it’s especially frustrating to see our country’s personal health and our health care system in such horrible condition. Here’s what I believe to be an outline for turning things around:
- Up to Date Nutritional Education
Not only what people need to eat but why. We should be teaching this in schools and every medical office in the country. Nutritional information, decades old, proven invalid and even harmful, is still widely accepted. This woefully out dated information is still being spread in schools, doctor’s offices, hospitals and many health oriented articles and publications.
- Government Subsidies for Organic Animal Products, and Organic Fruits and Vegetables.
Non-toxic foods, that provide essential nutrients, are not affordable for low-income families and individuals.
The government has subsidized individual farmers as well as corporations who’ve taken over the market to grow wheat, rice, soy, corn, meat and dairy since the Great Depression. These foods prevented immediate death from starvation. They made people gain weight, which doctors during the Depression saw as a good thing. Average Americans, back then, were physically hard working people: farmers and laborers. They were skinny with no extra weight to lose. It wasn’t understood that grains and dairy were nutritionally lacking after processing.
The use of pesticides, herbicides, female hormones and antibiotics were encouraged to increase production of grains, dairy and meat. Hydrogenated oils and preservatives extended shelf life, which was thought to be a good thing. But these substances in our food impair digestion and cause serious health problems.
Currently, our tax dollars make corn, wheat, soy, rice, meat and dairy so cheap that they’re predominately used to make junk food, prepared foods and fast foods that are toxic and nutritionally void. When we pay taxes we’re paying to create “foods” that make us sick. An ever-growing segment of the US population is slowly starving to death while getting fatter because they exist on nutritionally impoverished food.
What the government should be subsidizing is the production of organic fruits, vegetables and organic animal products. These are foods that heal and maintain health.
- Our Health Care System Will Be Broken Until Health, Not Profit, is the Priority.
Insurance companies’ primary responsibility is not to patients, doctors, or health in general but to their stockholders.
A major objection to socialized medicine, which every industrialized country employs, has been government dictating the health care of individuals. But insurance companies have been doing this for years; based on profit, not health.
For example, in the past patients weren’t released from the hospital until they achieved a certain level of stability. Now insurance companies mandate how many days of recovery are allowed for each procedure. Patients often end up back in the emergency room because they where released (kicked out) too soon.
Insurance companies dictate what tests or procedures health care practitioners and hospitals can give patients by telling them what they will and will not pay for. This is practicing medicine without a license. Scary and illegal, but for some reason an exception is made for the insurance industry. Might have something to do with the incredible amount of money insurance companies pour into lobbying, and pay for with your monthly premiums.
When my mother was in the hospital from a head injury due to a fall, her insurance company demanded she be discharged after a certain number of days. Her doctors advised against it but there was little they could do. Her doctors then advised she be moved to a rehabilitation facility that provided hospital level care. But we were told the insurance company would reject her doctor’s advice. They denied that level of care to anyone over 50 years old. My mother was instead moved to a rehabilitation facility with the reduced level of care her insurance company decided upon. Within days she was back in the emergency room, once again fighting for her life.
Insurance companies have increased paper work, time and again, until every practitioner who accepts insurance is so bogged down with paperwork there’s less time to spend with their patients. Staff or billing companies must be employed just to keep up with complicated insurance billing. But the pre-authorizations and documentation insurance companies demand from doctors, nurses, and other licensed health care providers keeps increasing at an alarming rate. Their demands lower the amount of time spent with patients and therefore the quality of care, thereby increasing health care costs. Part of the insurance companies reason for this is to refute malpractice cases, which are caused in part by overworked and understaffed health care workers struggling to keep up with the required paperwork. This additional paperwork provides more ways to deny claims, according to the insurance companies exacting and ever increasing criteria. Many insurance companies even pay separate companies to review claims and pre-approval requests. Insurance companies claim all this paperwork, and the paying of other entities to process it, is to save health care costs. While this effectively reduces their financial obligations it increases costs for patients, practitioners, and health care facilities.
The mounds of paperwork also limit what insurance a practitioner can accept. Oregon used to offer a policy for low-income families and individuals that didn’t pay practitioners much, but enough to get by. In the last year insurance companies, which the State of Oregon contracts with, have increased the paper work, the denials and limited what they’ll pay. So now many practitioners can’t afford to accept this type of insurance, including myself.
Oregon’s low-income policies used to offer as many Acupuncture treatments as a patient needed. They found it cut down on the use of painkillers and positively impacted the opioid epidemic. It also provided preventative medicine. All of which cut down on overall health care costs. But in the last year their insurance companies will no longer pay for preventative treatments. For example, patients I used to see once a month, to prevent neck, back, shoulder, elbow, wrist and finger pain so they could work at computer jobs all day, now have to wait until they’re in crisis to come in. Preventive maintenance has gone by the way side. If the practitioner’s reports don’t show continuous improvement in the level of pain then treatment is denied. The result is more patients in crisis, with no way to afford the help that was working to keep them functional. This means less pay out and more profit for insurance companies.
When a health care practitioner, or facility, bills an insurance company, what they are paid is not what is billed, but a portion of it. The amount paid varies widely from company to company and from visit to visit for the same services. One company only pays me $17 for an hour and a half appointment. The amount paid, if anything, changes at the whim of the insurance companies. When something isn’t covered the patient is required to pay the difference unless the service provider or facility can afford to reduce or forgive the bill.
How can any industry function effectively with such ever-shifting parameters? No one knows exactly what to expect in payment until the check is in hand. And the checks keep shrinking for the same services provided. It’s an insane system. Health care practitioners and facilities are getting short changed. The patients are getting short changed. Meanwhile, the insurance industry is making record profits. Families paying out of pocket often pay the same monthly premium as a home mortgage payment for coverage that is increasingly reduced. When US citizens scream about health care costs most people don’t even know who the real culprits are.
The insurance industry blames rising medical costs to a great extent on malpractice claims. But that accounts for less than a fraction of a percent of their yearly profit. They also imply costs are due to greedy practitioners and medical facilities. But with the continued reduction in payments many practitioners and facilities are struggling to make ends meet.
Ironically, the best insurance for benefits: low deductibles, high quality care, preventative care, no pre-approval, and decent pay for practitioners, is provided to state and federal government employees. So our tax dollars are paying for much better insurance for government employees than most of us can afford for ourselves. I wonder if things would change if everyone in the Senate, Congress, and all upper government positions were only permitted the same type of insurance the majority of Americans can afford?
4. Fully Utilize TCM and Nutritional Education to Lower Health Care Costs.
Studies have shown that TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) drastically reduces health care costs. In just 6 months time one study showed almost 50% savings in cost for Medicare patients with back pain.
The combination of TCM with nutrition and nutritional supplements can reduce the need for drugs and surgeries, normalize blood tests, help reduce recovery time from surgeries and conventional medical procedures, increase the rate of recovery from these procedures, and drastically reduce the incidents of diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, cancer, Alzheimers and dementia. It’s proven to greatly reduce the need for painkillers and therefore reduce the incidents of drug addiction. Many addiction recovery clinics show positive results when incorporating TCM in their protocol.
But whether it’s a drug addict, a student, a parent struggling to keep up with family and career, or anyone trying to cope with the complexities of modern life, TCM and nutrition have a major impact on stress, anger, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
To be mentally stable you have to be physically stable. People who are starving, either from lack of food, eating foods void of essential nutrients, or people who aren’t able to digest their food properly aren’t physically, mentally or emotionally stable. The natural response to starvation is agitation, aggression, and often provoke an attack mode, or on the flip side lethargy, mental fogginess, reduced productivity or incapacitation. A key to mental health is nutritional health.
Utilizing TCM and nutritional education can turn that around.
It is hard to believe it is so simple, and yet optimal health still remains elusive for many.
In many ways it’s easier than it seems: eat a wide selection of many colors and textures of organic vegetables with chemical free protein for breakfast, lunch and dinner. And except for infrequent occasions, avoid: sugar in all it’s forms, dairy, corn, wheat and alcohol.
In other ways it can be more complicated. And that’s where I come in. When people don’t like vegetables, when they crave dairy, sweets and junk food, there’s a digestive component that needs to be addressed. They aren’t breaking down and assimilating their food. Digestive impairment is the root of most health problems. If this isn’t addressed, resolving symptoms will be a short-term fix, and more serious health issues will manifest.
I find it shocking and ironic to hear about starvation in one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
It is shocking. In this country, there are as many people starving today as during the Great Depression. They’re dying slowly and painfully while quite often getting fat in the process. And they’re not even aware they’re starving.
As I said, until health becomes a priority over profit in this country nothing will change. It will take nutritional education and subsidizing healthy foods. It will take enough people who are knowledgeable enough to demand affordable access to chemical free, nutritious food.
Nancy you have a real gift for being able to explain the “Why” behind things. Please say more.
The term physician in Chinese and Greek doesn’t just mean someone who provides tools for health, it means teacher. From the beginning of Western and Eastern medicine it was a physician’s obligation to teach their patients how to be healthy. I take that responsibility very seriously.
I was never satisfied with the approach of “Because I said so,” or the implication that medical professionals didn’t have the time and the patient didn’t have the ability to understand explanations. As a patient myself, I wanted to understand why I was being ask to do something when it came to my body. TCM gave me the answers I needed for understanding my health. I believe my readers and my patients deserve the benefit and respect of knowledge about their own health.
Nancy you have over 30 free articles posted online at LocalsGuide. What are some of your personal favorites?
Well, this time of year the one on Colds and Flu. And for new readers, or for a good review, the ones on vegetables, protein, grains and potatoes, “Sweet Poison,” and the one on Damp Foods.
Tell us about the end goal for your articles.
For 20 years now my patients and people who have heard me speak have been asking me, “Where can I find everything you’re telling me in one place?” I’d laugh and say, I haven’t written it yet. Then they’d ask me when my book will come out. So, my articles will become the foundation of my book. It’s taken years of practice, countless seminars and accumulation of information to collect the knowledge I needed. The articles have provided a great format, the monthly deadlines have been instrumental, and the encouragements I’ve received from my readers have all helped me accomplish my work. Also the excellent editorial assistance offered by my husband, Bob Rice L.Ac. Emeritus. I’m just now starting to put the book together. I’ll let you know when it becomes available.
Nancy what differentiates you and sets you apart in how you work with your patients?
Every practitioner has his or her own tools and strengths to share. As we’ve discussed, knowledge is one of the tools I offer my patients. I don’t believe in patient compliance. I believe in patient empowerment. It’s important for them to understand what combination of factors initiated their health issues and what they can do to heal and to stay healthy: to stay active, energized, and mentally, emotionally and physically strong.
I ask my patients to bring in all the supplements they’re taking so we can determine which ones are beneficial and which ones are adversely affecting their health and finances.
I explain any herbal formulas I give my patients and exactly what they’re taking them for. I also label them; so on down the line they remember why they took them. Patients usually don’t need prescribed formulas forever, but need them off and on for a while and sometimes temporally in the future. The explanations and labels help to build a functional, herbal medicine cabinet. The formulas provide food to address the underlying issues they’re dealing with. The labels jog people’s memory. So later on they aren’t looking at bottles of pills with no idea what they’re for. A waste of money, as opposed to something they continue to benefit from.
Whenever possible I prescribe certain foods instead of pills.
I also see myself as a health coach: a troubleshooter. It isn’t my job to tell people what to do, but rather to help them find ways to incorporate healthy changes in their lives. This includes simple techniques I’ve learned over the years. I explain Acupuncture points patients can massage for quick relief. I also offer easy and tasty recipes, ways to remember to take pills, and appropriate stretches and exercises.
Preventative health is also a big focus for you. Please say more.
TCM has been actively addressing preventative health for 2,500 years that we know of. There are extensive medical texts dated from that time. By treating the root cause of health issues it prevents other problems from manifesting. Patients are taught how to achieve and maintain optimal health.
For certain periods of Chinese history a physician was employed by a town, family or individual, who would pay for and receive, regular treatment, including nutritional counseling. The practitioner would be paid on a regular basis, unless someone got sick. Whoever got sick didn’t have to pay. Now that’s preventative health!
As far as I’m concerned, preventative health is a no brainer, therefore an essential part of my practice. The reason for my articles is to teach people not only how to get healthy but to stay that way.
Nancy you have also had your own health challenges which encouraged you to work extensively on your own health. How has this inspired and shaped the work you do?
I believe that some of life’s greatest challenges can turn out to be our greatest blessings. In my case, my numerous health issues have provided a better understanding of how to help my patients and readers.
Those health issues included being born with a weak immune system, so I was constantly getting colds and flu.
At 11 years old my appendix ruptured. After barely surviving that, I formed a cyst in my abdomen, the size of a grapefruit, causing my intestines to rupture. So you can see why, aside from the western medical education required for my degree, I’m a firm believer in conventional medicine. I wouldn’t be alive today without it.
I was born with almost an entire set of extra teeth. So between the ages of 6 and 20 I had extensive oral surgery to extract 21 teeth and move others. Without modern medicine my face would be deformed and I’d have trouble eating.
All the antibiotics, not to mention abdominal surgery and scar tissue, caused other health issues, including severe allergies to foods and external pathogens, yeast infections, urinary tract infections, interstitial cystitis, adrenal fatigue, memory problems, digestive issues, the list went on and on. I looked healthy but I was struggling to get by. When I learned about TCM, and the other modalities I now employ, I learned first hand, what to do for all my various problems, how to get well and stay that way.
I also had two serious auto accidents. The first caused a severe concussion and extensive soft tissue damage. I had days I couldn’t walk, months I couldn’t drive. I couldn’t work any more. I went from doctor to doctor and was told I could be in that condition the rest of my life.
Eight months after my accident I learned about TCM and the other modalities I incorporate in my practice now. It put me back together, enough that I could attend the 4-year master’s program and extra seminars to learn what I now use to help others. This type of medicine healed me enough to be able to sit for six hours per day in lectures and complete not only the 800 hours of clinical internship required to graduate but do twice that: to include the additional modalities I employ in my practice. The additional internship and seminars included current nutritional education, use of nutritional supplements and Kinesiology (muscle testing). I was physically and mentally able to sit and focus enough to study for school and the six months preparation for my TCM boards, then sit for two days of testing. Passing my boards permitted me to acquire my National certification and State license to practice. Far from being incapacitated I was able to achieve my goals.
My second auto accident occurred when I hit black ice, flipped my SUV and shattered my clavicle. This was shortly after I met my husband, Bob Rice, one of the first Acupuncturists to be licensed in the state. My surgeon told me there was so much damage I’d never regain full range of motion with my left arm. I just chuckled to myself and thought, “You don’t know what we know.” With our knowledge, Bob’s wonderful treatment and care, and the help of a great physical therapist he knew, I now have better range of motion with the arm that was injured than with the other. It took 5 months to heal enough to go back to work. But that was months less than I was told it would take.
So, the first accident was the ‘Angel with the Base Ball Bat’, knocking me off the path I was on and introducing me to my life’s work/passion. The second accident helped me fine-tune my protocol for pain and acceleration of healing.
From both accidents and all my surgeries, I learned first hand of the stress, depression, anxieties, debilitating fatigue and mental fog such trauma can cause, and how to treat them.
So all my health issues and traumas became true blessings, enabling me to help others on a much deeper level, physically and emotionally.
Nancy, what are some your favorite aspects of your job?
My patients! I have an incredible job. I get to come to work, visit with friends every day, and give them tools for their health. Then I get to see them benefit from those tools: feel progressively better, stronger, and taking control of their health.
I love learning from my patients. They’re the experts on their bodies, the only ones in them 24/7. They tell me what’s working for them and what we need to adjust. We’re all biochemically individual. There is no one right way for everyone. This is a core concept of TCM, and something important to acknowledge with every patient.
What else is fun is figuring out the underlying cause of problems. TCM looks at the body in a different way. Everything is connected and has an impact on everything else. So I get to be a detective, figuring it all out. Some of my favorite cases are the most complicated. The more symptoms a patient has, even the smallest and least troublesome, the more information it gives me about what’s causing their primary concerns.
I don’t heal anyone. I just give people tools to heal themselves. But I get to come to work and see miracles. Who wouldn’t love a job like that?
I know you would like to also give a big shout out to your editor – your husband and fellow Acupuncturist Bob Rice.
I would! Every good writer needs a good editor. No matter how many times you read and re-read your own work there’s things you miss. It’s also essential to get someone else’s point of view when it comes to the clarity of your ideas. Bob is a great editor. I also appreciate that he sometimes offers a different perspective. I’m fortunate to have his expertise, not to mention his love and encouragement.
I’d also like to thank Shields Bialasik, the LocalsGuide editor and owner, for his encouragement and support in helping me share my messages of health and healing.
Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?
Yes, there is!
If there’s a subject you’d like me to address you may write to me at the address listed below. While I won’t be able to reply individually, I’ll make every effort to respond to requests through my articles.
And yes, I am taking new patients. So if you have health issues you need help with, give me a call and come on in.
Here is a full archive of Nancy’s articles available for free to be shared with friends and family around the world:
Nancy Burton, L.Ac.
Reclaiming Our Health
534 Washington St.